Janus Quadrifrons

Antique brooch with micromosaic in aventurine glass, Rome circa 1820

The rich abundance of Roman ruins still surprises and delights every traveller to the Eternal City. Starting with the Colosseum, the temples at the Roman Forum to the palaces of the emperors, there is so much to discover and marvel at that you can hardly capture all the impressions in your memory. Just as it happened to us today, it also happened to the travellers of earlier centuries. Even in Goethe's time, there was a longing for souvenirs that captured what they had seen. Prints could therefore be purchased in many corners of the city. But also jewellery was created, mainly with micromosaics, as souvenirs. The present brooch shows one of these ancient monuments, which has been preserved until our time. It is the four-gated triumphal arch, which is located at the transition of the Velabrum to the Forum Boarium. The unusual structure was thought in the Renaissance to be a temple of the god Janus and was therefore named Janus Quadrifrons. Today, researchers suspect that the arch was built in the third century AD in honor of Emperor Constantine or his son. In the Middle Ages, the ancient arch was converted into a fortress of the Frangipani family. It was not until around 1830 that the original attic was demolished because it was mistaken for a medieval component. So today, when we travel to Rome, we can see the arch in a lower form. We can see the original condition before 1830 on the micromosaic here. The view shows the arch with intact attic and lush vegetation. We therefore date the depiction to around 1820. The 18th-century veduta by Piranesi below also shows the Arch of Janus before the fatal intervention. A plain setting of gold holds the fine mosaic and makes it wearable as a brooch.

Around 1775, Giacomo Raffaelli and Cesare Aguatti in Rome invented a new technique of working glass into tiny mosaics, which became known as "mosaici filati" (spun mosaics). Using this technique, it was now possible to decorate jewellery and small everyday objects snuffboxes, boxes, paperweights with mosaics that had previously adorned the walls and floors of Italian churches. The most famous mosaic factories of the 18th and 19th centuries were located in Rome, especially in the Vatican, and their most beautiful and sought-after works show, besides especially views of the city of Rome and its famous buildings, which were bought by travellers who visited the "Eternal City" and wanted to take a souvenir.

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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.